Thoughts of an Old Man

Do you want to see the future?  It’s easy.  Just look upon the faces of suffering children worldwide.  Look at their torn bodies in Syria.  Look at their contorted bodies, their bodies bloated from malnutrition.  Look at their bones lightly covered by skin with hardly any muscle or tissue supporting their skeletal frame.  Look into their quiet eyes.  Look everywhere in the world, in the Democratic Republic of South Sudan, in much of the African and Asian continents, in parts of North and South America.  They are easy to find, our children.  All children are our children.  They are easy to find.  They are our present and our future—if they survive.  And even if they survive, the stress, the trauma, the neglect, the malnutrition has retarded both their bodies and their minds.  How can they be truly effective adults who help make the world a better place for all God’s children?  Do you want to see the future?  Look at our children.

We the adults, we who are supposed to be in charge of the present, are collective failures!  There is no greater potential for progress and good than the human mind.  And there is no greater destructive force than the human mind.  There is no greater short and long-term cost in both economic and social consequences than human potential wasted.  These things we know, yet we cannot achieve peace and harmony and unity and a sense of mission within our nation states to solve worldwide issues.

Yes I grieve for our children.  Even in the relatively stable United States there are rising poverty rates, and that is deadly for children.  Abundant research data for at least a half of century have proved the connection between malnutrition and brain development, especially during the first five years of life.  Studies have also shown that good nutrition for mothers-to-be is critical to their child’s pre-birth development.  Can we at least support good nutrition and pre-natal programs for pregnant women in poverty?  Can we develop social and economic support guarantees that ensure the likelihood that all infants are healthy at birth?  These are quite trifling expenses for a wealthy nation.  But most of all, they are vital investments in our future.  Those children are dependent upon us as adults to determine the quality of their present lives.  We, in turn, are dependent upon them to determine the quality of our future.

Do you want to see the future?  Look in the eyes of our children, the quiet, haunting eyes of those who still live.  Then ask, “What shall we do?”  I’m reminded of that great statement from Robert Kennedy, made more than fifty years ago and still relevant today, “Tragedy is a tool for the living, not a guide by which we live.”  Ken McCullough


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